Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.

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Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The George W. Bush award

For open-mindedness and fair thinking goes to Richard Ford.

Congrats to Ed, who I suppose is now officially famous, and hometown hero Dan Wickett. We Detroiters do more than build cars.

I realized this week that I'd fallen down on my promise to deliver weekly hairball reports to you, my faithful readers. But Richard came through for me. I may be a dumb blogger without so much as a basement to opine from, but at least I try something before I knock it.

Richard, you're worse than disappointing.

But the best thing to do about disappointment is overcome it, no? We'll make a valiant attempt. To this end, let us peruse Barking Kitten's mail.

Barking Kitten's real name, which is not Diane Leach, has been sold by the New York Review of Books. This is the only possible reason for the shiny folded page advertising Virginia Tufte's Artful Sentences: Syntax as Style.

Oh, no. This is either hilarious, or awful, or both, but in searching for Virginia Tufte online, we find this.

Let us quote BK to Hockeyman upon receiving the mail: "Graphics Press in Cheshire, Connecticut? What, is it a vanity press run by retired people with goats in their yard?"

Basically, yes, only the Press is run by Mr. (Dr?) Edward Tufte.

Never mind. The brochure, which encourages us to purchase the text, tells us Artful Sentences examines:

"...more than a thousand excellent sentences chosen from the works of authors in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The sentences come from an extensive search to identify some of the ways professional writers use the generous resources of the English language."

Notice, friends, the many passive structures of the above quote. Contemplate what sentences might appear. Call me Ishmael. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. Eating is a small, good thing in a time like this.

Nah.

Forging onward:

"Both new and experienced writers will find inspiration: the book is not about 'errors' but about successes. If you are already a good writer, Artful sentences can help you to become excellent."

Herman, Ernest, Raymond, buy yours today! www.tufte.com!

Still not sold? Virginia has excellent street cred. She is a distinguished professor emerita from USC. She specialized in Milton, Renaissance Poetry, and (here come them passives!) "the history and grammar of English."

Here is Professor Tufte herself, a woman of a certain age, photographed on a sunny beach. Below the photo we are treated to a pithy quote:

"The syntactic means are relatively simple and few but the stylistic effects are countless."

Indeed.

Five hairballs for Ford. Three for Tufte.

The sentences come from Moby Dick, The Old Man and The Sea, and Raymond Carver's A Small, Good Thing.

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